Dominique Strauss-Kahn charged in French prostitution case

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn faced preliminary charges Monday of aggravated pimping, or illegal procurement of prostitutes, in France.

Strauss-Kahn was summoned for eight hours of questioning Monday by French judges investigating an illegal prostitution ring operating out of the northern French city of Lille. The former IMF chief was notified that he was being placed under formal investigation, but allowed to leave after paying 100,000 Euros in bail, and agreeing not to talk to others being investigated in the case, or travel without consulting a judge, the Associated Press reported.

French prosecutors in Lille have been investigating an illegal prostitution ring that is alleged to have brought prostitutes from Belgium to luxury hotels in France and to parties in Washington, D.C., and New York attended by VIP clients, France's Radio France International reported in October. Eight people have been charged in the case so far, including a police officer in Lille and three directors with the city's Carlton Hotel, the New York Times reported.

An attorney for Strauss-Kahn adamantly denied Monday that his client had broken any law. "He firmly declares that he is not guilty of these acts and of never having the least inkling that the women he met could have been prostitutes," Richard Malka, a lawyer for Strauss-Kahn, told reporters.

Another lawyer for Strauss-Kahn had earlier acknowledged that Strauss-Kahn had participated in the sex parties, but said his client could not have known the women were prostitutes. "I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a nude classy woman," DSK lawyer Henri Leclerk said in a statement in December. "Because as you can imagine, at these kinds of parties you're not always dressed."

Preliminary charges mean that investigators believe a crime was committed but need more time to investigate.

Strauss-Kahn, 63, was reportedly mulling a run as the Socialist Party candidate for French president last spring, when he was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. He resigned from the IMF during the investigation, but prosecutors dropped the charges in August, citing the unreliability and inconsistencies in the maid's accounts. But two months after his return to France, Strauss-Kahn was questioned in connection with the Lille prostitution ring.

The French prostitution ring charges come as a New York court is due to take up a civil case filed by the hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, against DSK later this week.

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